A smug and overly self-assured downhill skier, David Chappellet (Robert Redford), joins the American ski team and quickly makes waves with his arrogant behavior and even flashier maneuvers on the slopes, falling into conflict with the team’s coach (Gene Hackman).
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It was a fascinating movie and while it was ostensibly a human drama, I couldn't help but detect a certain amount of wish fulfillment, as the US had yet to win a gold medal in Olympic alpine ski events.
Bill Johnson became the "downhill racer" in 1984.
More Ferrania than Kodak, More Leica than Nizo, More Porsche than Citroen, More Cossak than Brylcreem, More Crisp than Cool, Cutting edge Knitwear, Peripheral Vision, and a rare brief, poignant, sensitive expression glimpsed passing over Gene Hackman's face.
Absolutely gripping, and I have zero interest in skiing. The action sequences are pure adrenalin, cleverly stripping the experience down to the skier POV, made all the more intense by restricting the sound to breathing and the different tones of ski on snow. Redford and Hackman are excellent, and Ritchie's direction shows subtlety, intelligence and imagination.
Intimite telephoto close-ups draw you into this stylish and slickly dressed sports drama. Redford is cooler than the icy slopes and delves deep into the ego that drives us to pursue passion and succeed at being the greatest at whatever cost. Brace yourself for the mesmerisingly tense POV shot of Chappellet's first ski. "What's there to understand? I'm here because I ski and I ski fast - that's all there is to it."
Great character study - I would imagine that many sports stars are as egotistical and ruthless as Redford in this film, which provides an alternative to the usual Hollywood sports fare. I'm not even sure if I wanted him to win come the final set piece... Liked the faux documentary style of the skiing sequences.
They spare us the bombastic schmaltz of lesser sports films, instead opting for a more subtle, documentary-style approach; the restraint is also dowm to the' lead performance of Hackman and Redford. Also noticeable is its abrupt editing and impressive POV cinematography. Mildly engaging in the "action" sequences there wasn't much else for this film to offer and i was mostly restless - bored even - throughout..